Phan – January 2015

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Trying to make it past the Saturday afternoon traffic before sunset, I was determined to introduce my friend Cameron to his first-ever Green Belt experience. Finally, around 4:20 PM, (with about an hour and a half before the sun went down) we arrived at the Spyglass entrance (which conveniently shares the same address as the Spyglass neighborhood’s Taco Deli). I was excited to finally be able to explore nature after weeks of dreary weather – Saturday was blessed with beautiful sunny weather.

All along the entrance of the trail, cars were parallel-parked bumper to bumper – that particular area of the Green Belt seemed to be quite busy that day. As usual, we were greeted by many panting dogs, bikers, and my favorite, the older and more reflective “strollers” who seemed to enjoy their retirement taking in the fresh air and greenery.

There’s no picture that could do justice for the beauty in front of us, but I tried.

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We didn’t walk long before Cameron found a nice rocky perch by the stream flowing gently along the trail. We sat down, watched, and reflected. Being out and away from society and tall, grey buildings just has a way of reminding you that you’re part of something so much bigger than yourself.

 

As Aldo Leopold beautifully states:

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”

The longer we sat, the more beauty I seemed to notice, not just in nature but also in the mere situation: two friends taking a hike to find escape from the wild world, seemingly to “get away” from the chaos of humankind, but in reality, the world and all of humankind as well as nature operates all at once as one huge machine. Each gear of the machine must maintain its own inner balance in order to operate individually as well as serve its greater purpose as part of the larger machine – to sustain it.

I sat their on my rock, and I began thinking that I was part of the earth just as much as that rock was. My purpose wasn’t all too different from the rock’s purpose – I am because the world is and the rock is because the it is also part of the world. All is one. It is difficult to explain in words because as Leopold stated, this philosophy cannot be expressed by language. In my opinion, it can only be witnessed through living in the present. Just as my photos can’t describe the real beauty of nature and can only really be appreciated by visiting and seeing the actual site, my philosophy cannot be experienced through words but can only be understood through living presently.

The water was surprisingly clear, unlike any freshwater I had seen before such as the water found at Lost Creek which is so polluted with trash (and people) that the water from the waterfall is actually yellow. However, the Spyglass water was so clear that I wanted to taste and take a drink of it (but I didn’t).

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Though the trail was one of the more popular ones, the rockiness and difficulty to walk on the path probably prevented anyone who didn’t really want to put effort into trekking it from coming often. At least, that’s my theory for why this particular entrance seemed to be less littered than others.

We perched alongside the water for a while but then stood and walked through the empty creek bank which I assume used to be filled with water until Texas’s drought conditions took a turn for the worse. It was difficult to navigate through the rocks – it wasn’t really a trail, really, just an empty bank.

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We saw a lot of plant life, but no animals. I was fascinated by the deep-blue and red berries found on unknown plant branches and at the different colored and textured fungi eating away at rotting trees which were toppled over and made the “trail” seem like an obstacle course. The moss was also very interesting – it was extremely soft and intricate and did not rub away at human touch as I had expected. It covered dead trees and some rocks like a wooly blanket and made our short journey a lot more slippery.

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What was even more incredible was the range of color – reds, blues, browns, yellows, blacks – and strange shapes – some flat, some brick-like and rectangular – found in the different rocks. I’m no rock expert by any means but some of the rocks seemed to look like conglomerates, some like igneous-like obsidian rocks, others seemed human-made, and most seemed to be limestone. We occasionally ran into still puddles within the rocky stream bed – again, so clear that it looked drinkable and when taken a picture of, it was so transparent that it just looked like a picture of rocks.

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We found that, not surprisingly, some kids had found their way out to the top of the stream to engage in some mischievous (and currently illegal) deeds, but their presence didn’t disturb us. I didn’t blame them for wanting to escape into this beautiful part of the Green Belt.

By the time we left (around 5:30 PM), the sun had disappeared behind the clouds and the 70 degree F weather seemed to chill down to the mid-60s.

I’ve always been a fan of Mother Nature – she’s probably my favorite artist. I found the entire experience to be quite enchanting as if I was stuck in Tarzan’s Treehouse (from Disney Land) except it was much riskier than a child’s playground and most of our surroundings were naturally occurring and not as man-made. It was a quiet and peaceful place for reflection and meditation, which was the main purpose of our trip out there.  I’m excited to return and see how the conditions change especially with the amount of water in the streams.

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